It took a while to put everything together for the Mad March Hack 2014 event but thanks to the attendees and everyone who helped me organise the event, it was a success!
For a bit of background as to why I set up a hackathon, check out my articles for the events here:
Platform Studios was our chosen venue and due to its size, we couldn’t have hundreds of students come along but it was suitable for the size of students who had generated interest in the event. We had 16 folks come down to develop and only 1 person left which in my mind was definitely a success!
Microsoft were amazing enough to provide pizzas for our event! They even provided free t-shirts for everyone who attended which went down well with the group as well as our awesome prize which you’ll see later on.
We had a range of developers working on game, graphic, mobile, web and desktop based projects from all year groups with a range of different skills. While there were people developing games, I was happy to see people come along and work on web, desktop and mobile applications. It isn’t easy to get those types of folks to come along, but developing an app in 24 hours is actually quite easy. It is usually the case that most people have an idea for an app but make it far too complex for the timescale so don’t bother making it. When this happens, you just need to take it back to the basics and it becomes achievable.
Here are the projects that people were working on!
Adam, Rob & Oliver
The team, comprising of third year computer science students, came along and developed a game that requires the player to organise a fireworks show. When you start out, you don’t have that much money so your fireworks aren’t the best. As you play and upgrade your fireworks for better explosions, you will be able to make more money and put on a spectacular show.
The game has potential for mobile platforms and including in-app purchasing for different firework types for example. I am looking forward to seeing what the team do with this game and we can hopefully see them being successful on the mobile marketplace in the future!
Rob, a second year engineering student, came along not to compete in the event, only that he was set on making a text-based adventure game with no prior programming knowledge. He set out for most of Friday evening putting together the structure for his game and how the story would pan out using a flow chart.
From that, Rob and I put together a very basic text adventure structure in a console application so I could show Rob how easy it is to program in C#. Hopefully he came away from the event learning something from me but I have recommended some books for him to take a look at for a beginners tutorial into C# so he can carry on the development of the game!
Peter, a second year computer science student, worked through the whole event attempting to create a new Gameboy emulator with C#. He spent a lot of time reading up on the assembly of the ROMs and putting together his very own emulator!
Again, this project has potential to be amazing and a project that Peter should be proud of. It isn’t easy to pull of creating an emulator.
Sam, a first year student, decided to have a go at making a game using MonoGame on a Windows Phone 8 device. While he struggled to get the orientation to work, he managed to work through it and made a simple game with potential for something much bigger.
He went from collision problems and placeholder graphics to a working game within a matter of hours from the finish which was amazing.
In the game, you play a speed boat on an infinite side scrolling adventure avoiding objects in the water and air. When judging the game, we felt the game had a very “flappy bird” style gameplay but with Sam’s own twist added making it a potential hit. With more time, this game will be great and I can’t wait to see it on the Windows Phone marketplace.
Andre, a second year computer science student and founder of Tech@Hull, decided to develop a PHP based web application which provides users multiple ways of communicating with people using the twilio API.
His application was able to send text messages to people’s phones, make VoIP calls to each other using a web browser, call mobile phones, send text-to-speech phone calls to phones and even receive a text message which it could read out to users on a web browser.
This application has the potential of becoming an amazing multi-platform messaging service and hope that Andre carries on his work with it!
Conor & Daniel
Conor and Daniel, first year computer science students, were a team that blew the judges away. They developed a “Worms” style game using XNA with keyboard & Xbox controller support for up to 4 players in just 24 hours.
While at the end of the 24 hours the game contained a few bugs, the game was very well polished in terms of its gameplay and graphics. It even had a menu system for choosing how many players were going to play from 2-4.
They made an attempt at a networked 4 player game, however they couldn’t get it to work properly so settled for 4 player split-screen on the one machine.
Other folks did take part, but didn’t want to be judged for the prize however they spent their 24 hours wisely working on their projects which I’m sure will be awesome and I hope I hear what comes from them!
It was a very close call for who was to win the hack. It is always surprising to see first and second year contenders come in and blow away the judges over those of the older years. So we ended up with three projects we felt deserved a place in the running and these were Sam’s, Andre’s and Conor & Daniel’s.
After a good 5/10 minute debate however, we decided that Conor & Daniel had shown an achievement never seen by any first year students before and were worthy of winning a new white Nokia Lumia 1520 device which they are going to port their game onto in the next few months.
I have also possibly helped some students in decided on taking up a position as Microsoft Student Partners for the next academic year as well as getting folks to set up at Platform Studios for free! I’m hoping to see more start-up businesses popping up in the near future in Hull with the number of enthusiastic students that study here.
Let’s hope this event carries on each year! I will be back to see how next year’s goes!
Thank you to everyone who helped out with the event, and thanks to everyone who attended. You made it an great experience for everyone and you worked hard. Now go catch up with your sleep!